Scientoon & Scientoonics

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Scientoonics – Study of Scientoons?

About a week ago on Facebook, a friend posted the following diagram (a) (from her immunity lecture) and this gave me inspiration for this post. In her own words, the diagram is about tumour immunity and how the different cells work together effectively to promote the ‘killing’.

Smiley faces

Have you had lectures where diagrams are filled with smiley faces? I certainly did not and quite often, I find myself sitting in science lectures trying to ‘digest’ the masses of text presented (like (b) below). Even though the two pictures are in different areas of science, I am sure information from (b) could be explained by using visual aids, e.g. the use of images, flowcharts; instead of a whole slab of text.

(a) Adaptive immunity to tumours

(b) Taken from my lectures slide

Research shows that the average person (65% of the population are visual learners) cannot read and listen at the same time, so having students (us) peruse wordy slides will in some way hinder information retention. From my personal experience, graphics in lecture slides and notes help a lot when learning something new for the first time and they are far more memorable and interesting. Research also shows that visuals increase information clarity and absorption; and charts and diagrams continue to play important roles in presentations.

It is however, necessary to note that while visuals are important, they have to be structured and used correctly.  Proper chart and diagram construction is critical to conveying concepts in the most understandable way possible, like how the concept of ‘adaptive immunity to tumours’ was conveyed in a smiley flow chart above.

Do you think it’s possible to explain science concepts using cartoons?


Children have always been fascinated with cartoons. As such, there could be a potential whereby cartoons can be used for science communication and education to help convey concepts effectively.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Scientoon is precisely this and was pioneered by Pradeep Srivastava, an Indian scientist and science communicator.

Scientoon is a new branch of science that deals with effective science communication by using a novel class of science cartoons… they not only make you smile and laugh but also provide information about new research, subjects and concepts in a simple, understandable and interesting way

He has managed to explain difficult concepts such as DNA fingerprinting and spectrometry in a way that is accessible to a wider audience through the medium of cartoons. His cartoons contain a caricature accompanied by a satirical comment or dialogue, as well as some basic information about new research, ideas, data or facts.

Grabbing the attention of students to love and understand science is a huge challenge, and there is an urgent need to inculcate interest in students. Pradeep’s vision is to “change the nature of science education in the world”.

Like Pradeep, Esther has created physics cartoons aimed at high school students with the mission to “make learning physics more fun and easier in classrooms”.

Electrical Concept © Copyright Esther Siam and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Where do you see the future of science communication going? Do you think such methods will change the structure that education takes in the future?



  1. Wen jie
    Posted August 23, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    I think this is a very effective way to learn as most of us do learn science from storybooks and tv shows since when we are kids. An extension of this teaching methodology would certainly aid students in learning more complex science knowledge. RSA on youtube has already lead the pathway im terms of learning commerce ideas in a story telling manner. It would certainly be highly anticipated for science to make same move too!!

  2. Nadia
    Posted August 23, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    I like the cartoon diagram! Even though i am not studying science, i think i learn something from diagram 1. Diagram 2 is just too textbook style, making it hard to comprehend. I hope to see more Pictorial type of teachings in the future!!

  3. cyquek
    Posted August 23, 2012 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Wen jie and Nadia for the input! I just had a look at the RSA animate videos on youtube and they are so engaging! I wonder if scientists are able to utilise such idea to communicate their research findings to the general public or even to their collaborators? These days, research is based on collaboration between experts from different areas and it is often quite a challenge to effectively communicate science.

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